NBSM short of staff to do market monitoringThe understaffed regional office of the Nepal Bureau of Standard and Metrology (NBSM) in Butwal is hard-pressed to deal with multiplying consumer complaints about the quality and standard of goods sold in the market.
The understaffed regional office of the Nepal Bureau of Standard and Metrology (NBSM) in Butwal is hard-pressed to deal with multiplying consumer complaints about the quality and standard of goods sold in the market.
The office has failed to conduct adequate field inspections as there is one market inspector to look after six districts. Since the office has not been able to conduct market inspections, consumers are being cheated in terms of quality and weight.
“Black marketeering has flourished as the NBSM office has failed to inspect market anomalies,” said Norbu Lama, district president of the Consumer Welfare Protection Forum, a non-government organisation involved in consumer rights.
Consumers have been forced to compromise on health and price.”
The NBSM regional office said that it was not able to provide effective services due to lack of human resources. Roshan Gaugam is the lone market inspector at the office. He holds the responsibility of the officiating chief of the office. The posts of office chief, senior monitoring officer and two inspectors have remained vacant.
Gautam has been discharging daily office duties and collecting fees by issuing and renewing permits for weighing machines. “Although I know that field inspection is very essential, it has been difficult to do so,” he said.
The office also lacks a laboratory to check the quality of goods, but there are technical staff at the office. A technical officer and technical assistant are working in the office. They check the documents submitted by eight factories around the regional office.
People coming to complain about the quality of goods are sent back without being served. More than 100 applications related to poor quality and short weight besides applications by traders to have their merchandise quality checked remain pending at the office.
During the first six months of the current fiscal year, the office conducted monitoring just four times. The office has participated in six inspections carried out by the District Administration Office and the Department of Commerce. The inspection team visited 34 firms during the period and took action against 21.
“We know customers have been cheated at every step, but we are helpless at the moment,” said Gautam. In the last fiscal year, the office conducted eight inspections on its own and 15 joint inspections with other government offices. During these inspections, 30 traders were found to have cheated consumers.
Despite being a regional office, officials said that they are yet to reach Nawalparasi, Kapilvastu and Gulmi of Lumbini zone. “As there is no office chief, necessary equipment and technical human resources, market monitoring and inspection have not been effective,” said Gautam.